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MSP seeks evidence of RET damage to Orkney businesses

Orkney MSP, Liam McArthur wants Orkney firms, particularly in the tourism sector, to inform him of the direct impact they believe the Western Isles Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) ferry fares are having on their business.

Mr McArthur raised the issue of the loss of tourist business in Orkney when he met Alex Paterson, the chief executive of HIE.

He cited a report from an accommodation provider, who claimed to have lost several regular visitors to the Western Isles, because of cheaper ferry fares.

Mr Paterson referred to the recently published report on the RET study, which, he said, “did not find any adverse impacts with respect to the tourism sector, or more generally.”

Mr McArthur commented: “Now that ministers have confirmed that RET to the Western Isles will continue for the foreseeable future, it can no longer be considered a ‘pilot’.  It is vital, therefore, that the impact on Orkney businesses is properly understood by ministers and their officials.”

He added: “That is why, if there is evidence of Orkney’s tourist businesses losing out to the Western Isles because of RET, I would like to hear about it, so that I can again make the case for Pentland Firth routes to be included in the scheme.”